What happens when you work from home – for better or worse?

What happens when you work from home – for better or worse?

I’m betting if you’re reading this you are either working from home or anticipating another stint at home. So how is it going? Here is what you might be finding:

Decreased productivity

For some activities you may notice a reduction in productivity. Faced with a dull or boring work task, say, data entry? All of a sudden doing the dishes seems like a really fun thing to do! That will reduce your productivity by about 6-10 percent.1

Increased productivity

Conversely, when given a creative, enjoyable task your productivity increases – by 11-20 percent. Creative tasks involve asking questions of curiosity and finding new and innovative solutions to problems – very rewarding. In fact, when you achieve that ‘aha’ moment the hub of the brain’s reward system, the nucleus accumbens, lights up. This is part of a network activated when we experience a pleasure or reward.2

Strategies

To maintain productivity you may want to create a couple of rules for yourself. For instance:

  • Break up your day alternating creative and mundane tasks
  • If you are not allowed to use the internet for purposes other than work when you are in the office, apply the same logic to working from home.3
  • Set definitive work hours for yourself and close the kitchen door – you can do the dishes later!
  • Go for a walk – walking has a large effect on creativity, by about 60%4

So stay safe while working from home and keep moving.

  1. Glenn Dutcher E. The effects of telecommuting on productivity: An experimental examination. The role of dull and creative tasks. J Econ Behav Organ. 2012;84(1):355-363. doi:10.1016/J.JEBO.2012.04.009
  2. Tik M, Sladky R, Luft CDB, et al. Ultra-high-field fMRI insights on insight: Neural correlates of the Aha!-moment. Hum Brain Mapp. 2018;39(8):3241-3252. doi:10.1002/hbm.24073
  3. Young J, Makineni S, Iyer R, Newell D, Moga A. To Snoop or Not to Snoop: Evaluation of Fine-Grain and Coarse-Grain Snoop Filtering Techniques. In: Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg; 2008:141-150. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-85451-7_16
  4. Oppezzo M, Schwartz DL. Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking. 2014. doi:10.1037/a0036577
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